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38 vs 38 special

Discussion in 'Caliber Corner' started by mycriptonite, Feb 12, 2010.

  1. mycriptonite

    mycriptonite

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    well...... apparently there is a 38 and a 38 special round..........
     
  2. vafish

    vafish

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    There are several .38's besides the .38 Special.

    There is the .38 S+W, the .38 Short colt, and the .38 long colt. All of them are obsolete and rarely encountered.
     

  3. mycriptonite

    mycriptonite

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    ahhhh, the 38 short perhaps.....I have a aquired a old police positive pistol, it is still functional and in great shape although the cyclinder is 1/4 inch shorter than my s&w 337
     
  4. Hydraulicman

    Hydraulicman

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  5. Merkavaboy

    Merkavaboy Code-7A KUZ769

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    If it's a Police Positive revolver, my guess may be the .38 Colt New Police (essentially the .38 Smith & Wesson) cartridge.
     
  6. texmex

    texmex

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    38 Short Colt and 38 Long Colt are very similar to 38 S&W Special but are shorter cases. 38 Short Colt may be fired in a 38 Long Colt or a 38 S&W Special revolver. 38 Long Colt may be fired in a 38 S&W Special revolver. 38 Smith & Wesson has a slightly larger diameter case and bullet. It cannot be fired in a 38 S&W Special revolver. The 38 Short Colt should not be fired in a 38 Smith & Wesson revolver. When fired in a 38 Smith & Wesson revolver, 38 Short Colt cases will swell and may split. Accuracy, velocity and safety may be compromised.

    The British military 380/200 MkI and 380 Revolver MkIIz cartridges are identical to the 38 Smith & Wesson cartridge but use a 200 grain lead bullet and a 178 grain jacketed bullet respectively. Revolvers chambered in these cartridges are very common in current or former British Commonwealth countries.

    Colt also manufactured revolvers chambered for the 38 Smith & Wesson cartridge. Their revolvers were usually marked 38 Colt New Police. Ammunition manufactured as 38 Colt New Police was loaded with blunt nosed lead bullets as opposed to the 38 Smith & Wesson round nose lead bullets. The 38 Smith & Wesson was also loaded with a 200 grain blunt nose luballoy coated lead bullet and marketed as the 38 Smith & Wesson Super Police. Just to add to the possible confusion, the 38 S&W Special was also loaded with a 200 grain blunt nose luballoy coated lead bullet and marketed as the 38 S&W Special Super Police. As if that were not confusing enough, there is also a pistol cartridge named the 38 Super Automatic!

    Although the 38 Smith & Wesson cartridge was first marketed in 1877, revolvers chambered for that cartridge were manufactured through most of the 20th century. Smith & Wesson Military and Police revolvers and Victory Models were manufactured in this caliber. The 38 Regulation Police and the Terrier model were 38 Smith & Wesson caliber. These revolvers are very similar to models chambered in 38 S&W Special and will appear identical at a distance. Check the caliber marking on the barrel to be sure. Some 38 Smith & Wesson Victory Models were bored out after World War 2 so the chambers were long enough to accept the Special cartridge. This conversion is of dubious value since the resulting chambers will be oversize and cases will be a loose fit and causing swelling on firing. Although the bullet diameter of the 38 Smith & Wesson cartridge is supposed to be .361” while 38 S&W Special is .357”, wartime expediency seems to have resulted the barrels on Victory Models being identical for both cartridges except for the markings.

    38 Smith & Wesson cartridges are still manufactured by Remington and Winchester. 38 Short Colt cartridges are still manufactured by Remington. As loaded by Remington, the 38 Smith & Wesson launches a 146 grain lead bullet out of a 4 inch barrel at 685 feet per second. The 38 Short Colt launches a 125 grain lead bullet out of a 6 inch barrel at 730 feet per second. Both achieve 150 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle.
     
  7. 380Seecamp

    380Seecamp

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    My FFL got a shipment of 1/2 dozen boxes of .38 Super because the distributor said they had 38s in stock. He thought he was getting .38 Special cartridges.

    I took them off his hands "at cost" because he didn't know anybody else that still shoots the .38 Super.
     
  8. mycriptonite

    mycriptonite

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    thanks for all the advice and info, is their a source that I can trace the serial number for this colt to find out exactly what it shoots ??????
     
  9. sigcalcatrant

    sigcalcatrant

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    Nope, that ain't it. .38 Super is a semi-rimmed, semi-auto round developed from the dimensionally identical but far lower pressure .38 ACP.
     
  10. sigcalcatrant

    sigcalcatrant

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    No need, it fires the .38 New Police, which is identical to the .38 S&W, as stated by Merkavaboy.
     
  11. texmex

    texmex

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    I have a book called Colt's Dates of Manufacture by R. L. Wilson. It shows the Police Positive 38 as being manufactured from 1905 until 1927. The Police Positive Special was manufactured from 1908 until 1958 and then again in 1977 and 1978.

    Let us know the first three numbers of the serial number and I will look up when it was manufactured.
     
  12. mycriptonite

    mycriptonite

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    thanks texmex, the first 3 of the serial are 153
     
  13. texmex

    texmex

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    1924. You're welcome.
     
  14. mycriptonite

    mycriptonite

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    so, does it say exactly what caliber, ammo is to be used ??????
     
  15. texmex

    texmex

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    The Police Positive 38 and the Police Positive Special shared the same serial number ranges. If the revolver is a 38 Special it should say Police Positive 38 Special on the barrel. If it just says Police Positive 38, it is a 38 Smith & Wesson. You might want to take it to a reputable gunsmith and have him check it out (usually a good idea with any firearm that you do not know the entire history of).

    If a 38 Smith & Wesson cartridge will fit in the chambers, that's what it is.
    If it won't fit, it is a 38 S&W Special.
     
  16. mycriptonite

    mycriptonite

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